Our cover story this week looks at the Arkansas Medicaid mess, with almost 50,000 Arkansans — many or most of them eligible for Medicaid — facing termination of their health insurance coverage. Legal Aid of Arkansas and the Center for Arkansas Legal Service issued a press release today announcing that they will offer free legal help in to beneficiaries who have lost coverage and are now struggling to navigate the confusing process with the state’s Department of Human Services.
Beneficiaries who receive cancellation notices or have their coverage terminated do have options guaranteed by federal law, including ample opportunity to get coverage reinstated without having to start over with a new application. However, the state’s unforced error — the income verification letters’ unreasonable and unworkable 10-day deadline — has caused massive confusion and chaos. The backlog at DHS, as the overwhelmed state agency tries to process paperwork, has led to some cancellations even when beneficiaries did respond in time, so beneficiaries are justifiably worried about the ability of DHS to promptly and smoothly get folks reinstated.
And of course, many beneficiaries simply don’t know what’s going on or what they should do at this point. DHS is now revising the income verification letters and cancellation notices to be more clear, but initial communications were vague and confusing and included nothing about the process for beneficiaries to get reinstated.
The only way out of this mess is if non-profits, stakeholders, community organizations and others do the work that the state did not: outreach, communication, and assistance for the state’s poorest citizens who are dependent on Medicaid for access to care. Good on the legal aid organizations. Press release after the jump:
Low-Income Arkansans May Receive Free Legal Help with Medicaid Terminations
Arkansas is currently in the process of verifying continued eligibility for those individuals receiving Medicaid/HCIP benefits. Almost 50,000 people across the State of Arkansas have received a Health Care Redetermination Notice from the Department of Human Services (DHS). This Notice advises individuals to submit proof of income within 10 days from the Date of Notice listed at the top of the letter.
Individuals may qualify to receive free legal representation from civil legal aid organizations if they have received a Health Care Notice terminating their Medicaid/HCIP benefits or if they have applied for Medicaid/HCIP and have not received a decision in 45 days. Arkansas’ civil legal aid organizations, Legal Aid of Arkansas and the Center for Arkansas Legal Services, may be reached online or by phone:
Online Application: www.arlegalservices.org
Toll Free: 1-800-9 LAW AID (1-800-952-9243)
Craighead County Residents call: (870) 972-6411
Pulaski County Residents call: (501) 376-3423
Washington County Residents call: (479) 442-4204
Legal Aid of Arkansas and the Center for Arkansas Legal Services are non-profit organizations that provide free legal services to low-income Arkansans with civil legal problems, including public benefits, divorces for domestic abuse victims, minor guardianships, consumer issues, and landlord-tenant issues. With 15 offices staffed by more than 50 attorneys throughout the state, plus a volunteer pool of more than 650 attorneys, legal aid services benefited at least 30,000 low-income people and the elderly with their critical legal needs in 2014. However, close to 750,500 people in Arkansas live at or below 125 percent of the poverty line, and thousands of those Arkansans in need were turned away due to lack of resources. Learn more at www.arlegalservices.org | www.arkansasjustice.org.